Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

#FridayFlash 43: Would you have popped the bubble?

As the first of the large drops hit her she rolled her eyes. She'd been completely oblivious, walking along in her own little world; she hadn't even noticed the ominous black clouds taking over the sky. She should've checked before she left home. Or at very least, paid attention while she was walking. But she hadn't, and so she'd be soaked in seconds, and it was her own fault.

And because she knew better, she figured she had no right to whine -- even to herself. Besides, the weather suited her mood. So she returned to her daydream in which she'd been able to say everything she wanted to her obnoxious coworker, fire the useless employee, and generally run things the way she wanted to. The way she knew she could.

If only. The rain stopped as abruptly as it began, and Amy couldn't help but be awed at the sight of the rainbow left behind. Did wishes made on rainbows come true? No, that was shooting stars. Rainbows had gold at the end. Although in this case, that'd probably have the same effect, Amy mused. Unfortunately the end of the rainbow was well out of reach. That pot of gold was safe from all but the birds -- or perhaps a strategically flown plane.

Amy walked a little faster towards home, shivering slightly at the damp despite the warmth outside. She found herself paying far more attention as she walked, now that she'd burned off her original anger. After the storm, the world had taken on an eerie orange glow -- very much like you might see at sunset on the ocean, but it was hours from sunset and farther still to the nearest ocean. The world seemed very still. She could hear the buzz of running air conditioners, and the odd bird that ventured to break the post-storm silence, but there was a lack of people or movement. Even the leaves hung still, as though exhausted from the storm. No cars drove by. No kids played in the yards. Basketball nets hung empty and bikes lay forgotten on their sides.

Feeling suddenly anxious, for no reason she could describe, Amy broke into a jog chiding herself all the way for her inexplicable behaviour, but unwilling to let rationality override her instincts. Seeing her home she added extra speed, a true run now, and nearly tripped over the box by the front door. But the feeling of being watched, of being followed, was too intense; her curiosity couldn't overcome it, so Amy darted in and locked the door behind her.

Her heart thudding she stood quietly and listened to her house. Her cat greeted her with a purr and a meow -- it was time for his dinner. Everything was as it should be; she sensed nothing amiss. Even still, while mocking herself every step of the way for her childish fear, she went around turning on every light and checking every closet.

She fed the cat, poured a glass of wine, and settled down in front of the tv. Gradually she relaxed; slowly her senses returned to normal. And eventually she remembered the box on the porch. Funny, she hadn't ordered anything.

Retrieving the standard cardboard package she was puzzled to note that it had no mailing address. It was light, felt as though it could be empty, and written on top in childish scrawl was one word: Surprise!

Amy's vivid imagination immediately flipped through the range of possibilities: from flowers from an unknown admirer to a terrorist attack she thought of and rejected dozens of ideas in the second she stood there. The rational side of her brain took over control and it told her to bring the box inside and open it.

Inside was a lone square of bubble wrap - a perfect grid of nine unpopped bubbles. Bemused by the strange package, she followed the childish urge and popped two. Then she noticed the note lining the bottom of the now empty box:
The storm holds power, and the rainbow more.
We watched, and we heard.
All that you dream can be yours.
If only you have the courage to pop all the bubbles.

She peered at the bubble wrap, half relieved and half disappointed she hadn't popped them all before seeing the note. While the imaginative side of her mind hummed in the background, insisting on reminding her of the eerie light, the run home and the reason for it, the rational side of her mind quickly realized it had to be a psyc project of Pete’s.

How often had he lectured her that "most people are by nature cautious; they fear change and won't risk the unknown" implying that she too belonged in that group, while she prided herself on her adventurous nature. Hadn't she left school in third year to travel Africa, alone? Who does that? And left her cushy office job with benefits to work with kids in dangerous neighbourhoods? She was all about change and the unknown. And yet she hesitated. Over something that couldn't possibly be real. He would never let her forget it. And she would resent him for proving something about herself she didn't care to know. And it would destroy the friendship of a lifetime. So clearly, she had to pop the remaining bubbles.

Yet she hesitated.

Finally, annoyed with herself for the amount of courage it actually took, she rolled the bubble wrap into a column, took a deep breath, and with a quick twist popped all the bubbles together.

And absolutely nothing happened.

A quick laugh escaped her, born of relief more than humour; she booted up the computer to send a brief note to Pete telling him his little experiment had failed and headed to sleep. It was early still, but she'd had enough of that day.

The next morning, Amy smiled to herself as she drove to work, amused in the light of a new day at all that had transpired. Too little sleep, too much caffeine, and serious frustration led to all sorts of weird and unusual things.

"Amy, I need to talk to you about the basketball project," her boss said as soon as she walked in the door. The basketball project? But that had been shot down by the Obnoxious One. She wasn't about to turn down the opportunity though. Her day continued without a break -- everybody seemed to want her opinion on something, and both the Obnoxious One and the Useless One were conspicuously absent -- making her life significantly easier.

Exhausted at the end of the day, before leaving she signed in to her personal email to see a succinct response from Pete: "I have no idea what you're talking about."

As Amy considered the significance of that in light of the day's activities, a small part of her, the rational part, couldn't help but wish she'd been daydreaming of winning the lottery when the storm had hit.


Fantastic bit of fantasy here... And I really liked your opening... sorta put me on edge a bit.


Interesting fantasy tales. Could almost hear devious fairies snickering nearby.


Hey Lauren, nice work! I loved the workplace/single girl sophistication of the piece and, like Anthony, was pulled in from the first sentence.
And what a wistful fantasy it was.
I really enjoyed it!


Wonderful wistful piece. I thought you were going to leave the question open ended like 'The Lady or the Tiger' but I like the way you concluded this. Great job.


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